Cytokines secreted from antigen-specific T lymphocytes provide important positive and negative control of inflammation through their effects on non-antigen-specific inflammatory leukocytes. These effects often involve modulation of gene expression. Lymphokine-inducible macrophage gene expression is largely controlled at the level of transcription. Multiple cis-acting sequence motifs cooperate with one another to produce patterns of expression that are relatively unique to individual genes. Members of trans-acting transcription factor families, which recognize related regulatory sequence elements, participate frequently in complex protein-protein interactions that generate remarkable complexity in terms of the number of potential combinations and the consequential functional differences exhibited by each combination. Thus, the remarkable plasticity of immune-mediated inflammation derives from combinations of finite numbers of options at several points in the cellular and molecular sequence.